Tag Archives: public school

My School is Truant

Lily has not gone to school more than two full days in a row since mid-December. It is February 5.

Granted, there was a 2-week winter break in the middle of all that, but still. Let me repeat, there have not been two full school days in a row since mid-December. We’ve had 12 cancellations (so far) and at least 15 2-hour delays. Lily is in half-day kindergarten. Our school system splits the 2-hour delay between morning and afternoon kindergarten. Each class is one hour shorter, so she only goes to kindergarten for 1.5 hours on delay days and gets home an hour later than usual. If you add in the time it takes kindergartners to take on and put on winter coats, they might have an hour of actual class on those days. I have trouble seeing what the point is.

With 15 2-hour delays add up to 30 hours of missed school– another full week of classes. But we won’t be making up that time. In fact, we won’t be making up all of the 12 days we missed (so far. I suspect we won’t have school tomorrow. Another delay has already been scheduled.). They are talking about extending the school day 30 minutes and sending home extra homework to make up for the missed school, which in my world doesn’t make up for any missed school at all. In high school, an extra 30 minutes is only about 4 minutes per class. Are they really going to learn anything new in 4 minutes? Does an extra 4 minutes really make up for 12+ missed days?

If Lily were to miss 12 days of school on her own and then show up late for school another 15 days, I suspect a truancy officer would be at my house right now. We would probably be discussing whether or not she should repeat the year after missing so much school.

Instead, we have our school system trying to figure out how to get out of making up all the days of learning we “had” to skip because of the weather. I know there are financial and logistical problems in making up all of those days, but I’m more concerned with the fact that our kids are losing so many days of learning. Even when they do get to go to school, they only get to go for a couple of days and some of those days are on delays. I have trouble believing that much learning is getting accomplished with all of these interruptions.

Sometimes I wonder if the whole school system should just make up the year. It’s hard to say.

All I know for certain is that I’m glad Lily is only in kindergarten. If she were in an upper grade, I can’t even imagine where we’d stand right now.

Here’s hoping this winter lets up before we have to go to school through August.

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“The Day You’ve Been Waiting For!”

“Good morning, school district! It’s the day you’ve been waiting for! We finally have a 2-hour delay for winter weather!” said our superintendent said during the robocall that woke me up at 6 am.

The day I’ve been waiting for? Really? Maybe it’s the day my kid has been waiting for, but let me tell you, delays only cause scheduling conflicts for the parents. I would bet that 90% of the parents DON’T want a delay.

Also, “waiting for?” WHAT “waiting for?” We’ve already had seven fog delays! SEVEN! What waiting? I mean, I guess it’s been a couple months since we had a delay, but do you know how many months I went without a 2-hour delay at my school district growing up? Sixty. Easily. That’s probably an underestimate, actually.

To top that off, this is what my street looked like this morning.
DSC03253

Wow. Treacherous.

There might be some slick spots on the road, but it’s almost nothing. Trust me. Not school delay worthy. JUST DRIVE MORE SLOWLY.

I think my superintendent might be deranged.

EDIT: And now school has been completely cancelled for the day. Since Lily is in half-day kindergarten, I actually prefer this to the insane schedule that is 2-hour delayed half day kindergarten plus another kid in morning preschool.

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Reading Comprehension

For weeks, Lily’s teacher has been pushing for me to ask Lily more reading comprehension questions. The teacher claims that while Lily is able to read very fluently for her age, Lily needs work on her reading comprehension. She claims that when she tested Lily’s reading, Lily bombed the reading comprehension questions.

I’ve been confused about this for a while because whenever I ask Lily questions about what we read, she’s able to retell most of the story. Maybe I am asking the wrong questions?

Needless to say, I was curious as to what an official kindergarten reading comprehension question would be. Today was the first time Lily brought home official reading comprehension questions from school, and I’m even more baffled by reading comprehension than ever before. The questions were almost unanswerable for me, a 34 year old English major who went on to get an MA in journalism. I should be able to answer kindergarten reading comprehension questions without much thought, right?

In an effort not to break copyright laws, I will rephrase the book right here for you. Don’t worry, it’s shorter than everything I’ve already written.

    He Walks

He walks to the bus.
He walks to the train.
He walks to the boat.
He walks to the plane.
He walks to the school.
He walks to the store.
He walks home.

It was accompanied by illustrations of a boy walking all of these places.

If you were to ask me what this book was about, I’d say it was about a boy who walked a bunch of places and you’d probably agree that I had grasped the concept of the book, right? I mean, there was no plot to remember. There were no important details. It was just a boy walking places.

But here are the reading comprehension questions for this book:
1) What happened at the beginning?
2) What happened in the middle?
3) What happened at the end?

Apparently it’s CRUCIAL to remember the order of the places this guy walked? Was she supposed to memorize the list in order? I honestly couldn’t remember the order myself. He walked some places, none interesting.

Lily told me one place he walked for each question and I hope that was good enough, but was she just supposed to rewrite the entire book? Is it really important to remember that he went to the train before he went to the boat if nothing happened either place?

Then comes the most baffling reading comprehension question of the bunch.

4) Where did this story take place? (setting)

Where did this story take place?! The boy was in a different location in every single picture. No permanent location is indicated in the text. He’s going from place to place. Is this a trick question? I don’t understand!

Lily and I thought about this question for a long time and I honestly don’t know what the correct answer is. We eventually decided the answer was “He was walking outside.” It took all my effort not to end that sentence with a question mark (I was supposed to write down what she said.).

If this was the sort of sample Lily was given for her reading comprehension screening at school, no wonder she bombed the thing.

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How to Tell You Married A Smart Kid

This morning at the bus stop two nine year olds were telling me their spelling words were easy this week.

“One of the words is ‘girlfriend!’ Isn’t that weird?” said one of the girls.

“Well, actually that’s kind of hard for some of the kids. I know ‘girl’ and ‘friend’ can be hard words to spell when you are just starting out,” I said. “‘Girl’ is really confusing at first.”

“I can spell ‘girl’!” said a 7 year old. “Is it ‘G’… huh. Um… ‘G-R-I-L?’”

“That’s really close, but it’s ‘G-I-R-L.’ See how that’s confusing?” I said.

When I came into the house I told my husband about the conversation and he immediately said “Why would ‘girl’ be hard?! It’s easy!”

“Well, when you are a kid, ‘girl’ is really confusing because when you sound it out it sounds like the ‘R’ comes earlier than it does. It’s easy to mix up where to put that ‘R.’”

“I never had that problem!” said my husband. “Are these kids just stupid? It sounds like a vowel comes before the ‘R!’”

“It’s a really common early spelling mistake. And it’s also easy to flip around the ‘I’ and ‘E’ in ‘friend.’” I said.

Because, really, it is. I remember being confused by those very words. I remember my friends (or “freinds”) screwing up these words over and over again long past when we had them on a spelling test. Also, when you sound it out “friends” sounds like “frends.”

“I just can’t imagine spelling that wrong! Why? Why would that be hard?” said my husband.

“For some kids, those words are really tricky!” I insisted.

“No wonder I won all those spelling bees,” said my husband.

Indeed.

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Voting Conundrum

So, lately the blog has taken a little break thanks in part to my current Candy Crush and “Star Trek: Voyager” on Netflix addictions. The good news(?) is that I’m not that far from the end of Candy Crush. What will I do with all my free time when I’ve finally stopped playing that stupid game? Why can’t I stop playing that stupid game? I’m also less than 20 episodes from the end of “Voyager.” I envision this world where all I’ll do is write when both things end. Right?

Anyway, onward to better blogging behavior.

Today Ohio had local elections and even as I walked to the poll, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. Recently our school system had some major changes and I have been extremely unhappy with how our school board handled everything. And by everything, I really do mean everything. Every single possible detail of a certain situation was handled completely ass backwards. Even the nitty gritty details like transportation got completely messed up when these big changes took place.

After all this insanity, I knew I wanted to vote out the incumbents one at a time. Whoever was up for reelection was going down.

There were three people running for two positions in our school board– 1) the incumbent, 2) a guy I think shares my political and educational values, and 3) a guy I’m pretty sure does NOT share my values.

I really wanted the incumbent out, but I didn’t want to vote for the guy whose educational and political values went against my own. On paper, the incumbent’s values were just like mine, but I knew that that particular board member had done an especially horrible job handling our school system’s big changes. I wanted that board member out of there, but I didn’t want that other guy in there.

What the hell are you supposed to do in a situation like that?

I ended up voting for the guy whose values I didn’t like over the incumbent whose theoretical values I liked, but whose actions I hated.

My dilemma, of course, didn’t make much of a difference.

The incumbent and the guy whose values I liked ended up winning. Do people have that short of memories or did other people handle the dilemma differently? Or did they just have no idea for whom they just voted since our newspaper’s coverage was lacking?

Even though I’m upset the incumbent retained her seat, I’m glad I don’t have to find out what the candidate I didn’t agree with might have done. Or maybe he would have been better. Hard to say.

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Elementary School Blues

Yesterday Lily had her first minor spat with a classmate at school. At least, I assume it was minor because I only heard about it from Lily. Her teacher didn’t call me, and Lily was allegedly toward the top of the behavior chart for the day.

Lily came to me and tearfully announced, “Mara said I’m not 6. She said I’m 5, but I AM 6. She wouldn’t believe me!” She was really upset about the encounter.

Well, as one of my friends said, Lily should have said, “I turned six last week, stupid. Weren’t you paying attention?” because they’d celebrated Lily’s birthday in the classroom last week. Obviously Lily was more polite than that. Otherwise I probably would have gotten a phone call about the whole thing.

This led to a facebook discussion about our own memories of elementary school angst. I still hold a grudge against the large girl who got mad at me for not letting her cut in the line for the bathroom in first grade. When I wouldn’t move, she picked me up and moved me to the end of the line. I have hated her ever since. It has been 28 years, and I still hate her. I never bothered to get to know her after that. I just thought she was mean. I wonder if we would be friends right now if she hadn’t moved me in the bathroom.

I also am still annoyed with the sole other Jewish girl in my class for something that happened in first grade, and she was probably trying to look out for my best interests. My family does not keep kosher. I’m not sure what generation stopped following Jewish dietary laws, but neither my mother’s nor father’s parents kept kosher. Not keeping kosher is pretty common among non-Orthodox American Jews. The other Jewish girl in my grade DID keep kosher. When she saw me getting a ham patty (one of my favorites) from the lunch line at school, she tattled on me to the lunch lady. And the lunch lady took my sandwich away!

Which, OMG! Who was this Christian lunch lady to enforce my religious eating habits? As an adult, I don’t know if I’m more mad at the girl who tattled on me for eating ham when I DON’T KEEP KOSHER or the lunch lady for believing one Jewish kid over another. If I really kept kosher, I would be packing my lunch because the school cafeteria surely isn’t kosher. I’d been getting my lunch at school everyday and had definitely eaten milk with meat MANY times before this event happened. I may have even had the ham patty at school before.

And if I WAS breaking dietary laws, wouldn’t that be an issue for my parents to talk to me about later? Not the lunch lady? Whose duty is it to stop me from eating a ham sandwich? I know I was too young to be making my own religious choices, but seriously, not the lunch lady’s place to step in. I was annoyed with the other Jewish girl for years over this– but she was young too and probably just trying to look out for me.

So those are my two big early elementary angst stories. As you can see, they clearly stuck with me. I wonder if Lily will remember the time Mara told her she was 6? Is that in the same league as being physically moved to the end of the line in the bathroom or being denied a ham sandwich and told you were breaking rules when you weren’t?

What early elementary school conflict still gets you worked up?

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Homework

This past Friday, Lily got her first homework assignment.

Or rather, I got MY first homework assignment. Every single task on her homework included instructions for me and what I should teach her. One portion of the homework involved me having to tell her the story of how she got her name and then writing it down so she could share it with the class.

What if I didn’t have a good reason for her name? I have a nice enough story for Lily’s real name, but I have no good stories for Rose or Violet. We saw their names in a baby book, liked them a lot and then named them. The first two kids got their flower middle names sort of by accident, but we did it on purpose with the last kid. There’s not much to say.

I thought homework was supposed to be for the kids to take home to learn more. I thought parents were supposed to help when they needed to. This is how it always worked at my house growing up. My sister and I usually did our homework by ourselves and then our parents would step in when we needed help or to check our homework when we finished it to make sure we’d done it correctly. This is how homework makes sense to me.

Now, I want to be involved in my child’s education. I absolutely do. But I don’t understand this homework that’s specifically for me to do. My child should be doing the homework and my involvement, while perhaps important, should be optional. I ok with quizzing spelling words and tutoring on fractions, but I’m not the one in school. I shouldn’t be writing mini essays.

Did school change? Is this how school is now?

I mean, homework in kindergarten sounded ridiculous to begin with. I wondered how kids who couldn’t read would do homework.

I guess now I know. It’s not the kids’ homework. It’s the parents’.

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